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San Francisco Chronicle Article Compares Anti-Cyclist Sentiment To Racism, Sexism, Homophobia

Jack Hadfield

The San Francisco Chronicle is facing widespread mockery on social media after running an article claiming that hatred against cyclists is just like hating women, ethnic minorities, or gay people.

Writing in the Chronicle on Wednesday, Ruth Malone, a self-described “emergency room nurse, semiretired [sic] professor and a septuagenarian bicyclist who lives car-free in San Francisco,” lambasted the supposed “hatred” that the purveyors of two-wheeled transport have to face on a day-to-day basis.

Malone pointed to comments on social media following the death of world champion cyclist Ethan Boyce in a car crash in April. They included people pointing out that some cyclists do “insanely dangerous things,” and “ignore traffic laws,” which she claimed was tantamount to victim-blaming cyclists who get into car accidents for riding on the street.

“Just as those who tolerate or encourage racist, sexist and homophobic or transphobic comments on social media contribute to emboldening the people who attack and menace particular groups, people who parrot stereotypical comments about cyclists on social media subtly encourage those who would harm them,” Malone wrote in the editorial piece.

“Ultimately, hate of bicyclists comes from the same place as racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia: a desire to cling to the status quo power arrangements that favor some over others,” she continued. “Just as gay people are no longer willing to stay in the closet, nor women in the kitchen, bicyclists are no longer willing to settle for crumbs in terms of use of our public roadways.”

She concluded the 800-worded article: “Bicyclist hate hurts everyone. It’s time we called it out as wrong.”

Following the San Francisco Chronicle posting the article, on Twitter, their account was swiftly “ratioed” by commenters mocking both cyclists and journalists, especially for the seemingly ridiculous conflation of being critical of the behavior of cyclists, with racism and sexism.

“I did not hate bicyclists until I read this tweet,” one user wrote in the replies.

“Challenge: is it possible for you to publish an article that doesn’t make a tangential reference to racism, transphobia, homophobia or sexism,” psychologist Chris Ferguson asked.

“It doesn’t come from any of that. It’s because too many cyclists don’t obey the rules of the road and become unpredictable hazards in an already stressful driving situation,” another commenter wrote.

A number of self-proclaimed cyclists also decided to join in with the mockery, laughing at the prospect that they would be categorized along with minority groups.

Ironically, as one commenter highlighted, in November 2021, the Washington Post ran an editorial with the exact opposite claim: that American cycling has a “racism problem.” 

“If these two articles touch, they will explode in a flash,” quipped Twitter user Ed Gallagher.

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Jack Hadfield

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